006: MOTHER + SON BOWLING BASH

For the last several years in our church, we have hosted a daddy daughter date night. It was a special time of celebrating the unique bond that a dad has with his girls. Little girls loved dressing up, fathers took special care to write notes and select special songs to be played and good food, dancing and lots of talking was enjoyed by all. As you can imagine, this event was an annual favorite.

However, I recently started hearing from mothers that they wished there could be something special for them to enjoy with their sons. After all, while mothers tend to spend a lot of time with their kids, they don't often get a chance to just relax and enjoy their children while someone else does all the planning and work to make memories happen.

The Mother + Son Bowling Bash was our solution to this dilemma. Just a few weeks ago, we rented out more than half a bowling alley and paved the way for over a hundred mothers and sons to put on their bowling shoes and have a ball (pun intended...I know, that was bad).

 

In this blog post, I want to share with you all the steps we took to make this a successful event. Feel free to take it and make it your own. I realize that every church has a unique make-up and culture and that things work best when you tailor it to fit your own situation. My desire is simply to equip you to help the mothers and sons in your church connect in a meaningful way.

We have also found that the Mother + Son Bowling Bash presents a unique opportunity to invite unchurched friends into a church event that is not intimidating. Some people may hesitate stepping their foot inside the church building, but they would be happy to share a lane and have a good time with their friends.

That's why from the very beginning we made it clear that this event was designed for two things: 1) to give moms a chance to play, laugh and create special memories with their sons through bowling, eating pizza, and even competing for prizes. and 2) to provide a fun environment where they could enjoy the company of their friends (we put a special emphasis on inviting unbelievers but all friends were welcome).

The following is all the steps we took to make the Mother + Son Bowling Bash a success in our church and some tips + tools to make it work for you as well:

BEFORE THE EVENT

 

PROMOTION:

 

  1. Save the Date cards (8 weeks before the event)

  2. Pre- and post-service slides (5 weeks before the event)

  3. Posters – place them in your church halls, bathroom stalls and community spots (libraries, martial arts and dance studios, gyms, farmers’ market, community bulletin boards, etc.)

  4. Church bulletin (5-3-1 weeks before the event)

  5. Your church’s web-site and Facebook page (5 weeks before the event)

  6. Your children’s ministry Facebook page (5 weeks before the event)

  7. Emails to parents (8-5-3-1 weeks before the event.) Make sure not only to give event information, but also to paint a picture of the beautiful impact this event can have on the relationship with their sons.

  8. Printed postcard invitations (6 weeks before the event)

  9. Moms’ social media channels. Encourage the moms in your church to use their social media platforms to broadcast the event. Provide them with eye-catching graphics to include in their posts and examples of the verbiage to use.

NOTE: Don’t forget to download Event Promo Pack that contains customizable graphics that you can use to promote your event.

REGISTRATION:

 

  1. Start sign-ups five weeks before the event.

  2. Register people only AFTER they have paid the registration fee. Otherwise, you’ll waste a lot of time chasing after people who put in their names but not their dollars, reminding them that they still need to pay.

  3. If your budget allows, make scholarships available for single moms and for other families who might need them.

  4. Make it clear that aunts and grandmothers are most welcome to attend this event with their nephews and grandsons.

  5. While registering moms, encourage them to think of any unchurched friends with sons whom they could invite. If moms can’t think of anyone, encourage them to ask their boys if they have friends that they would like to invite. Give them postcard invitations to pass on to their friends.

  6. When we did this event, we charged $20 per each mother/son team and $5 for each additional son. Registration fee included unlimited games, pizza, drinks and shoe rentals.

  7. When we originally planned this event in our church, we promoted it for kids ages 5 through upper elementary. Since we had a few extra lanes on the last week of registration, we opened it up to mothers and sons of all ages and ended up with a couple of toddlers and sons in their mid-20’s. This worked out very well and didn’t cause any discomfort.

THE EVENT

 

EVENT TEAM:

  1. GREETERS / PIZZA DELIVERY / SET UP / CLEAN UP / TEAM SPIRIT JUDGES:  Two people (a couple would be ideal) with warm personalities. They will need to:

    • Show up 30 minutes before the event to set up the room where you’ll be serving pizza and drinks

    • Greet people, hand out event schedules

    • Bring and serve pizza

    • Do the clean up (very minimal)

2. MC: This most likely will be the children or family pastor. Your main job is to be there, make sure everyone is having a great time, and together with the greeters choose the winner of the Team Spirit contest

3.  PHOTOGRAPHER: Shows up 15 minutes before the event to scout an area for pictures of the mother/son teams (these will be used to judge the Team Spirit contest). They will also be responsible for candid pictures throughout the event.

 

ENVIRONMENT:

1. This is one of the easiest events to put together. Bowling alleys have their own unique ambiance, so we didn’t think any decorations would add value to the environment. We skipped the decorations and no one missed them.

2. I had a portable sound system that allowed me to play background music and make a couple of announcements during the Pizza Party.

3. Moms' and sons' Team Spirit attire added an extremely exciting spark to this evening setting it apart from a regular bowling event. I encourage you to do a team spirit contest at your event too. I'll talk more about this in Helpful Tips.

 

Event Schedule:

5 PM – Mothers and sons arrive.

1.  Event coordinators:

  • Greet everyone

  • Hand out individual Event Schedule Cards which include mother & son(s) names, lane number, a couple of conversation starters, flow of the evening and explanation about submitting their highest score for a chance to win a prize

  • Point everyone to the spot where they can have their picture taken.

  • You might want to include information about an upcoming event that unchurched folks might be interested to check out (Easter service, VBS or something else.) If they have a great time at the bowling event, they might be open to explore what else your church has to offer for families.

 

2. Photographer takes people’s photographs capturing their team spirit.

3. After they had their picture taken, mothers and sons go inside to get their shoes and start bowling.

6 PM – Pizza Party

  • The bowling alley that we rented had a spacious VIP room where people could enjoy pizza and drinks. The time was unhurried and relaxed which allowed moms to have a chance to connect with their boys.

 

  • Around 6:15 PM we announced the winners of the Team Spirit contest and gave them a prize.

 

6.30—7.30 PM Disco style bowling

 

HELPFUL TIPS:

1.  Before you pick a date for the event, it’s always a good practice to look at your overall church calendar to make sure your plans won’t clash with something that another department is working on. Also, check out your local calendar (community events, school events, etc.) to make sure families won’t be torn between too many good options.

2. Visit your local bowling valley at least six months before the event. Explain the nature of your event, ask for a tour of the facilities, take photographs (if necessary for future planning) and explore different options (packages). Suggested questions to ask:

  • What facilities will be available to us?

  • Are we allowed to bring our own food and drinks?

  • Will you be able to play Christian music?

  • Do you offer (disco/techno bowling with music and light effects?)

  • Do you have tables and chairs? (for pizza party)

  • Are people allowed to take food and drinks to their lane?

  • Will you take care of the trash (pizza boxes) and soda cans?

  • Do you provide bowling ramps for younger children? Bumpers?

  • Do you have glow bowl packages? (Everything glows under black light–lanes, pins, balls, and shoes! The LED disco lighting and down-lane lighting makes for an experience like no other.)

3. If you’re planning on renting the entire facility, which means that the alley will be closed to the public, discuss what your options might be if one week before the event it becomes clear that you can only fill 25 out of 40 lanes. (If you have done Mother + Son Bowling Bash in the past and had an overwhelming response, you may want to skip this step. But if this is your first time to offer this event to your church, and you have no idea what the response will be, it would be wise to have a plan B.)

4. Plan on having a Team Spirit contest encouraging each mom and son(s) team to dress up and show off their spirit. We gave a $25 gift card to a local ice-cream shop. Here’s an excerpt from the email we sent to the mothers encouraging their participation in the Team Spirit contest:

We want you and your sons to have fun, celebrate the unique bond you share and express yourself in any wild and crazy way you want to. Even though you’ll be sharing a lane with another family or two, when it comes to competing for the best score and team spirit prize, each mom&son(s) team is on their own. So you don’t need to coordinate your outfits with the other people on your lane. You and your son(s) are a team, so get out that face paint, hair dye, fabric paint, wigs, costumes and mustache, and go to work.

AFTER THE EVENT

 

1. Send THANK YOU notes to the event team.

2. Send an email to all the moms thanking them for coming, reminding them how to submit their highest score (if you want to give an extra prize for this) and asking them to fill out an Evaluation Survey. Here’s our survey to give you an idea what questions you might want to ask.

3. Create a gallery of images that can be downloaded using a link given only to the mothers attending the event (Dropbox is our go-to place for uploading images).

4. Create a short post on your ministry's social media feed, accompanied by some images of the event.

5. Send a THANK YOU to the bowling alley manager/owner. This is a relationship that you will want to cultivate, especially if you plan on this being an annual event.

6. Send the highest score prize to the team that won (we gave them a $25 gift card to a local ice cream shop).

 

NOTE: Don’t forget to download Event Promo Pack that contains customizable graphics that you can use to promote your event.

 

I hope that after reading this article, you are already dreaming of hosting a similar event for the mothers in your community. If you need help or have questions about this event, just let me know—I’ll be happy to help.

Oh, and once you do your own Mother & Son Bowling Bash, I’d love to hear how it turned out. Maybe even see a photo or two. Also, if you come up with any brilliant ideas to make this event better, feel free to share them with me. 


If you like this article, check out more FAMILY EVENTS STEP-BY-STEP GUIDES.

And if you like this article so much that you want to buy me a cup of coffee, I won't say NO. (You can send a cup of my favorite mocha HERE.) Thank you so much!

Dema Kohen

Founder of WeAreKidMIN. Having spent 25+ years in children's ministry, Dema is an expert in making children laugh, creating engaging content and sounding just like Gru (putting that Ukrainian accent to good use).